High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom - Opinions to States on Legislation

The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom provides technical legal assistance to improve media freedom by working with relevant state bodies to advise on repealing and revising legislation that is outdated or which restricts media freedom. The High Level Panel authors opinions to ensure that new legislation meets international standards related to media freedom and the safety of journalists.

Throughout the first phase of their work the High Level Panel undertook the following technical legal assistance projects, which can be shared publicly:

Support to States: Zimbabwe

Review of two proposed Zimbabwean bills focused on media reform following the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. High Level Panel member, Catherine Anite led this work on behalf of the High Level Panel and provided opinions on the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill and the Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill. The Zimbabwean parliament gazetted the Zimbabwean Media Commission Bill on 2 April 2021. The government reflected a number of their recommendations from the High Level Panel within the final bill, including recommendations focused on the appointment of experts. The High Level Panel welcome the final bill as it provides the necessary framework for the total repeal of Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom also accepts technical legal assistance requests international organisations. The High Level Panel will review requests against their remit, priorities and commitments. Requests should be sent to the IBAHRI Secretariat.

Support to International Organisations:

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), an independent NGO working on freedom of expression, media documentation and training, presently Co-Chair of the Consultative Network to Media Freedom Coalition, submitted a request to the High Level Panel seeking an opinion on the draft Safety of Journalists bill. The High Level Panel accepted the request and Galina Arapova is leading the drafting the opinion. In June 2021, PPF shared with the good news that the parliament of Sindh province in Pakistan passed the landmark Protection of Journalists and other Media Practitioners Bill 2021. PPF played a leading role in the passage of this Bill, from holding consultations from media and civil society stakeholders, to making concrete recommendations, to lobbying with political and government leaders and finally in producing the final draft of the Pakistan’s national government has also tabled a similar bill in the National Assembly, which is under consideration by its Human Rights Committee. The High Level Panel are now reviewing the bill at the National Assembly as part of this request and will include their comments in the final opinion.’